SIMPLE WAY to Make Dried Beans

14 Jun

Dried Beans Made Simple …

If you’ve never made beans from scratch, don’t be intimidated.  It’s a pretty easy process and one worth mastering.

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While there’s nothing wrong with cooking canned beans, nothing beats making them from scratch using dried ones.

I love beans & making them from scratch. I also love my slow-cooker. Lucky for me, it just so happens that beans and slow-cookers make excellent friends!

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Here’s how it works…

Beans cook best over a low, steady heat. This lets them absorb liquid evenly and prevents the skins from splitting. Low, steady heat? Sounds like a job for the slow-cooker!

I also like cooking beans in the slow cooker because it lets us cook several pounds of dry beans at once. I set aside what we need right away and freeze the rest for later. *See freezing note below

Slow-Cooker Beans:

1 16-oz bag of dried beans (or more, if desired) Water 2 teaspoons salt (per 16-oz bag)

If desired, soak beans overnight in plenty of cool water. Opinions vary, but I have found this decreases some of our digestion issues.

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In the morning, drain and rinse the beans. Discard any beans that floated to the top of the water or look otherwise unsavory.

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Pour the beans to your slow cooker. If using more than one bag, be sure that you leave a few inches of clearance at the top of your slow cooker.  Add a teaspoon of salt and enough fresh water so the beans are covered by an inch or two. Cover and set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

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At the 4 hour mark, add another teaspoon of salt, stir the beans, and eat a few to see how far the beans have cooked. Continue checking every half hour or so, and stop cooking when the beans have reached your desired softness. I don’t usually cook the beans for the full 8 hours unless I’m doing a mashed bean recipe, but I like the temperature range on the 8-hour setting for keeping the beans at a low simmer.

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After cooking several batches, I have a good idea of when the beans will be done and no longer check doneness every half hour unless we’re cooking a new kind of bean. In my  slow cooker, I’ve found that 6 hours is ideal for al dente beans destined for soups (where they will continue cooking a bit), 6 hours is good for ready-to-eat beans, and 8 hours gives us very soft beans.

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A few reasons to make your own tasty beans from scratch:

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  •  Canned beans are loaded with ingredients that I don’t know what they are and canned beans often have a lot of sodium.
  •  It is much less expensive to buy real food than it is to buy convenience foods.  Admittedly, canned beans aren’t that expensive, but dried beans are where it’s at fiscally speaking.  A pound of dried beans yields six cups of cooked beans.
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Freezing your cooked beans:

Transfer beans in 1 2/3 cup portions to freezer bags or containers. This is the equivalent of one can of beans.  Seal them up, removing as much air as possible, and toss them in the freezer. Because they store flat, these take up far less space than the equivalent cans.

Once you’re ready to use the beans, you can move them to the refrigerator or counter to thaw. Now my beans-of-choice are ready to use in hummus, roasted chickpeas, chili, soup, bean salad, refried beans, tacos, burritos…the possibilities are endless!

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Check out my You Tube video on cooking beans:
Any other tips for cooking beans in the slow cooker? Let me know if you have any tips that I don’t know about!
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One Response to “SIMPLE WAY to Make Dried Beans”

  1. Meg, Happy Kids, Inc (@happykidsinc) June 23, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Great article, especially the notes on the additives in canned beans (not to mention the BPA chemicals in the lining of the can!). Will definitely be trying this!

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